I’m the early riser in the house — 4:15 most mornings. I’m in the shower by 4:16. Stroodle, my 17-year-old chihuahua, pops up and heads to the back door as soon I exit the shower. Mom, 90, wakes up last, usually around 6:00. She checks on me and then goes back to bed for another hour or so. My workday starts at 7:00 or 8:00, depending on the day.


We don’t just live together, I’m the caretaker for my mom and the steward for Stroodle. Their care is in my hands. No matter what else I do with the course of the day, my pass/fail grade each day is based solely on how good their days are.

It’s come up a time or two in recent months that when I stepped out of the shower, Stroodle hasn’t popped out of bed and run to the back door as he usually does. My panic is brief though, because as I step toward the bed to check on him, that’s when he pops up, full of life and energy. All is good with the world.


A few weeks ago, failing to pop up after my shower, and completely still as I stepped toward the bed, my heart stopped. At 17, I know that his time could come any day. I slowly placed my hand on his ribs, which were warm, and rolled him gently back-and-forth. No movement. I stepped back and took a deep breath. The time had come.

Standing there, gathering my thoughts and determining whether or not I’d work that day, he popped up like the little kid he is, jumped off the bed and ran to the back door.

All was good with the world.

A few minutes later, we carried on with our morning routine, me sipping coffee and writing, with him on my lap and back to sleep. My workday was to begin at 7:00 that day. By 6:45 mom had not been up. Occasionally she struggles with her sleep, so I assumed she was just sleeping in a bit. I stepped into my studio, closed the door and worked my first two sessions. Through that 2-hour period though, I kept one ear to the other side of the house, hoping to hear some noise from mom. Nothing.

At 9:00, during my first break, I stepped into the house to check on mom. Her bedroom door was still closed and the newspaper, which I leave for her beside the coffee pot, was still there unopened. I put my right hand on the door knob to her bedroom, turned it slowly, and making as little noise as possible pushed it open. She lay on her bed, completely still.

I swallowed hard, took a half-step back, and watched to see if she were breathing. In a darkened room, with her shades pulled down, it appeared that she wasn’t. I probably processed a couple hundred thoughts in just a few seconds. No, I thought, not today. Her hand then moved, just a little bit, and as she turned her head I heard her breathe.

I stepped back, closed the door quietly, walked to the kitchen and stared out the back window for a few minutes as I took it all in.

In the course of just a few hours, though only for a few moments each, I had believed my canine companion of 17-years and my mom had each passed away in their sleep. That circumstance has happened with each of them previously, but never both on the same morning.

I’m a caregiver for my 90-year-old mother and a steward for my 17-year-old dog. Both are in relatively good health, but 90 and 17. I work from home, leave long enough each day to go for a bike ride and to pick up whatever essentials we might need from the market.

With no plans to move anytime soon, it’s fair to suggest that both my mom and my dog will live out all their days in this house. And it’s also fair to suggest, I’ll spend more mornings on pins and needles, if only for a few moments each.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
196 miles
8,500’ climbing
14.9 mph avg
11,049 calories
13 hours 11 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this new gem from The Waterboys. Enjoy…!


6 thoughts on “Morning Pins And Needles…

  1. Roy, I experienced your feelings fully. Well done! My compassion. Is enhanced by the fact that my pup just reached the far boundaries of her expiration date but keeps on ticking, playing just enough for me to know she is here but suffering enough that I know she is about done with this go round. She is a 15 year old Papillon.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It comes up regularly for me, and I hope when that day comes, it will bring you some peace, but I think about the author Kinky Friedman’s famous line…

      “When you get to heaven, all your dogs come runnin’ to ya…“

      Liked by 1 person

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